Cooper Webb did what he does. He has engineered another victory in Salt Lake City, and kept whatever title hopes he has alive, by outlasting an early challenge from Ken Roczen and distancing himself from everyone else. The Red Bull KTM man and defending Monster Energy Supercross Champion now has two wins in the four Salt Lake City races, and with 2-1-2-1 finishes has the best overall points tally of anyone at the four rounds. The title hopes might still be slim, but Webb is doing all he can to keep it going.
It’s hard to say if Webb was really the fastest man on this Wednesday night, and he also might not have been the fastest when he won last Wednesday, either. But he makes it happen in the other ways. In his heat race, Roczen was all over him and clearly faster in the whoops, but Webb simply took the line away in the next turn over and over, and Roczen couldn’t get by. The exact same scenario busted out in the main event, with Webb and Roczen side by side battling for the holeshot, but Webb got inside to secure the lead. This set up the heat race scenario again, with Roczen pressing him through the whoops lap after lap. Webb kept blocking the preferred line in the corner, though, preventing Kenny from getting by. Then Webb made one mistake and Roczen finally, finally, shot past him, but Webb then rallied right back past to regain the lead and block Roczen’s whoop run again!
“Kenny was really riding well at the beginning. We were putting in some heaters and then I started hitting my stride,” said Webb of his main event. “Not sure what happened but I ended up getting a decent lead… and it was cool to be able to enjoy that one a little bit more. Not too stressful.
“He’s obviously really quick in the whoops,” said Webb of Roczen and the battle for the lead. “I’m obviously working on it but I’m not as fast as him, but I knew if I covered my line every time, there’s no way he could pass me there. I got better in the main event when everything got more chewed out.”
Webb just kept steady, and then came bad news for Roczen, as he lost speed through the second half, just like he has at the last two races. As he fell through the pack, he fell into the clutches of the surging Zach Osborne, and improved Blake Baggett, and series’ leader Eli Tomac, who was off to a hellacious start, in 15th. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider took his time picking riders off, then really started rolling, getting all the way up to third to salvage solid points. Webb now takes over second in the series from Roczen, but is some 27 points down on Tomac.
“The start was unacceptable,” Tomac said. “Yeah, I can start looking long term, but I was third guy in line going into the first turn and I was buried. To be honest, I was pretty stressed out when I saw Coop and Kenny up front, and I was like, “Oh no, this could be a ten point night.” I was able to get to third, but I can’t be having those starts.”
Once Tomac got rolling, he was able to get through Roczen and Baggett to get to the podium. He couldn’t catch Osborne, though, who finished second, another great run on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna.
“I think the biggest thing for me right now is I’m in a really good head space,” said Osborne, who has two podiums and four top fives in these four races. “I’ve been enjoying the time with my family out here in Salt Lake City. My bike has changed a little, and I’m getting better at adapting my bike throughout the race, day, but I think the biggest thing is I’m enjoying myself on race days and enjoying myself out here.”
Baggett, who needed a solid bounce-back after some struggles at altitude in Utah, got one by staying strong throughout the main, even making life difficult on Tomac as he came through. He ended up fourth on his Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM.
“We’ve been hot and cold since we got here, but we’re going to try to get warmer before we leave,” said Baggett. “We made a lot of changes and I think we’re in a good spot, headed in the right direction.”
Roczen was fifth, certainly better than his tenth on Sunday, but championship hopes are nearly extinguished at this point.
“I just definitely had another, like viral flair up, and two days isn’t enough to get back to 100 percent,” said Roczen. “I feel like I’m riding good, team is working hard and I’m getting good starts, but overall I did the best I could to get back up there. We’ll come back Sunday, I have another day in between.”
Martin Davalos continued his strong run of riding by putting his Monster Energy/Team Tedder KTM in sixth—that’s two sixths in the four races here. Jason Anderson went down but recovered for seventh ahead of teammate Dean Wilson. Aaron Plessinger was ninth on his Monster Energy Yamaha, and Benny Bloss a solid tenth on his Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM. Malcolm Stewart broke a footpeg and failed to finish the race, and Justin Barcia also crashed out with an exploded front wheel.
The 250SX West division returned to action for the first time in four months. Four months! Austin Forkner clearly made the most of his time, holding strong under the typical Dylan Ferrandis late-race charge to notch the victory. Both Forkner and Ferrandis admitted that their first race this year at altitude nearly got the best of them—it was a real test. Forkner’s win, coupled with Justin Cooper’s disappointing fourth, puts the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider now up to second in the standings, but still 10 down on Ferrandis with two races left.
“I’m kind of in the position where I have to win out, but it still might not be enough, depending on what Dylan does,” said Forkner. “There’s only two races left now, I can’t control anything around me, all I can control is myself. All I can do is win and not make any big mistakes.”
Ferrandis got off to one of his typically not-so-good starts, but this one he traced back to a bad gate pick. He had a wild heat race when Cameron Mcadoo took him down, leading to a fifth-place finish. Ferrandis thought his start was good but he was too far outside, which left him digging. He worked from about fifth to second, but couldn’t catch Forkner this time.
“This one was really hard physically, one of the most difficult I’ve ever done in supercross,” said the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha rider. “I pushed really hard, and he won, that means he must have worked hard over the break, so congrats to him.”
Most improved award over the break has to go to McAdoo, who was fast enough to run down and pass Ferrandis in the heat race, then held Ferrandis and Cooper off for a long ways in the main. Ferrandis eventually got him, but he held Cooper at bay to land his first podium of the season.
McAdoo started the year with a crash and lung injuries at round two.
“I wouldn’t say it was eating at me, but I would say I was really motivated,” said McAdoo of his work over the break. “Even when times of a lot of uncertainly, I was like “I need to show what I worked for.” The whole off-season went so good and so seamless, that [getting hurt] was a tough pill to swallow. I really just wanted to show what I can do, and prove what kind of work I’m putting in. I feel like I want to win. This was my first podium of the season, but I want two more spots.”
Cooper ran second early but instead of challenging Forkner, as he would want to do, he ended up fourth. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Michael Mosiman outdueled JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki’s Alex Martin for fifth. All three GEICO Honda riders suffered crashes which hurt results abd spoiled the supercross debut for Hunter Lawrence. Lawrence was down early and came from last to 13th. Craig overcame a crash to net eighth. Jett Lawrence crashed while battling near the top five and finished 11th.